The 8th Green at the PGA Centenary Course, Gleneagles
of Rex Hoggard
The on-again, off-again rain that Scotland is known for is not stopping the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles from prepping for the 2014 Ryder Cup.
The layout reopened in April after a nip/tuck led by the Golden Bear in preparation for the 2014 Ryder Cup. Of all the changes—which included 50,000 tons of displaced soil and 30,000 square meters of new turf—it was the installation of a state-of-art drainage system that promises to keep the focus on the 2014 matches, not the mud.
A SubAir drainage system was installed in all 18 greens and officials also followed the “Better Billy Bunker Method” that was developed at Augusta National Golf Club to ready the layout for whatever may come, rain or shine.
Whether the European team, which has not lost on home soil since 1993, is up to the challenge remains to be seen, but it seems the Centenary Course, a distinctly American-style parkland design, will be ready for what is sure to be an agronomic challenge.
“Some of the technology we’re using really is at the cutting edge,” says Scott Fenwick, the hotel’s golf and estate manager. “We’re the first club in the U.K. to have a fully installed SubAir system on all 18 greens, which should help the greens withstand some of the vagaries of Scotland’s climate.”
In addition to preparing for whatever Mother Nature can dole out, Nicklaus reworked the original design to also test the world’s top 24 players, or your average 24-handicap for that matter, with significant changes to nearly every hole.
The most dramatic alterations occurred at the 18th hole, a par 5 played up a hill to a natural amphitheater. The championship tees were elevated and fairway lowered to give players a better view of the landing area and create more of a risk/reward opportunity.
“It was considered an American-style course when it was first built (1993), but now it’s fitting in better with the landscape,” said Billy Murray, the hotel’s golf marketing manager.
For Gleneagles, which has hosted numerous European Tour events including this year’s Johnnie Walker Championship, the 2014 Ryder Cup will serve as a reintroduction that has been years in the making. From the makeover of the Centenary Course to a complete overhaul of the iconic hotel the matches will be the metaphorical split in the road for the venerable hotel.
Like the Ryder Cup, Gleneagles has grown up, reinvented itself and, as much as one can, readied itself for the onslaught from what is expected to be record crowds and, yes, Mother Nature.